Allege two veteran Beacon officers passed over
The Beacon City Council is expected in the coming weeks to select a firm to assist in its search for a police chief to succeed Kevin Junjulas, who retired on July 7.
But in the meantime, the Beacon Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said it is unhappy with the council’s decision on July 6 to name retired Beacon police Lt. William Cornett as the temporary chief for up to 90 days.
The union said Cornett, who retired in 2002, lacks the certification required for the position. Officer Mike Confield, who is vice president of the union, alleged on Wednesday that the city overlooked at least two veteran officers who had expressed interest in leading the department as interims following the departure of Junjulas, opting instead for Cornett, who Confield said is “a friend of the mayor’s.” Confield declined to name the officers.
In addition, Confield said the union is unhappy “with the response of the council, or lack of a response” to calls by some residents to “defund the police.”
The department has already “been defunded and gutted” to “dangerously low staffing levels,” he said.
“Now, due to political pressure, they look to take away from the service provided by the Police Department,” he said. “Does this mean that the City Council for years has failed and missed items that could have been cut while preparing their budgets? Our issue isn’t with the community statements. Our issue is with the city failing to paint an accurate picture of the department and the staffing and support we already lack.”
On Monday, Teamsters Local 445, which represents officers in Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties, also condemned Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou and the council for what it said was their “continued push of anti-police rhetoric and policies,” including “the thought of disarming and de-vesting police.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Council Member Terry Nelson called the accusations “100 percent false.” The council has not considered any budget cuts to the police, he said.
“I hate the term [defund the police],” he said. “It’s a slogan that oversimplifies a very serious problem. We have no plan to defund anything. It’s not how government works. We don’t do things like that without thinking.”
Kyriacou, in a statement, said that neither he nor City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero had been contacted by anyone from the PBA regarding the union’s concerns.
“I am deeply disappointed by the approach of the police union, which has resorted to intimidation and escalation in a highly charged environment — where the community-building approach should be outreach and dialogue,” Kyriacou said. “Other than a statement from the PBA that I offered to read at a protest, I have heard nothing from them.”
Kyriacou on July 6 said that choosing an interim chief from outside the department ranks who is not interested in the permanent position will allow the city to undergo an open and deliberate search process. “We’re not advantaging anyone in this process, and we’re not predisposing anyone,” he said.